Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Live Event/Special

Preview of the Inauguration of Barack Obama: Following the Obama Express

Aired January 17, 2009 - 14:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. These are pictures from the train. This is what Barack Obama and all the other passengers are seeing as they're moving along from Wilmington to Baltimore. These are live pictures coming in from the train. It's pretty dramatic stuff when you think about it, given the fact that we're only a couple -- three days away from Barack Obama becoming president of the United States.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And these has been a big question all along about how many people would actually come out and see this train as it passed by. It's hard when we're looking sat those pictures via broadband to get a sense of people lining the route.

Candy Crowley who is on the train -- and is on the train -- we'll talk to her shortly -- has been saying she sees small groups of people coming out of their apartments standing on the patio, standing on their back porches as the train passes by trying to take pictures, all wanting to be able to say they saw perhaps a glimpse of at least the train --

BLITZER: She's blogging right now from aboard the train, You can go there and hear what's actually going on.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Think about it. Forty years ago, interracial marriage in Maryland was illegal.

COOPER: In Virginia.

O'BRIEN: There are several states that still had that on the books until the Supreme Court overturned it. And my parents would tell me stories about their first dates where my mom wouldn't be allowed into restaurants and when they tried to get married, how they were barred from being married and had to drive to the nation's capital to get hitched and then go back to where they lived in Baltimore.

COOPER: For so many young people in particular, it's hard to imagine. This is in our lifetime -- I'm 41. In my lifetime, this occurred. It's hard to believe.

O'BRIEN: One of six kids and my little brother, the sixth, was born before the law was changed that made their marriage legal where they lived. I mean, if you think about it, it wasn't that long ago. I agree young people when you speak to college audiences, wow -- because I tell them I'm 25 but it's that basic idea that it wasn't that long ago. It was this long ago in time. And I think it's been so fascinating, because when you see people line the routes -- I mean, it's that that they're connecting to, this historical moment they're part of. The e-mailer who sent the note about her mom's best friend being a black woman and she was white and they were just poor. They were just in it together and seeing the change that has taken place in America over 40 years or 60 years has really truly been remarkable.

And Obama's message change, yes, we can, has really been able to embody that, something that I think a lot of people have hoped for, that America can change in ways that we feel good about.

COOPER: And John, as you said -- you talked to Barack Obama just yesterday. And you asked him that question, what is it going to feel like to be moving into a house built on the backs of slaves? The Capitol built by slaves.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a moment that's a critical policy moment and substantive moment for the country. But there's the history and the symbolism and as we were talking just before the break, what does it mean for America?

Sure, will he help turn the economy around? What will he do in Iraq? What will happen to America's image in the world? We could go on for an hour, an hour, about the monumental policy questions facing this new president.

But these conversations, I think, are part of the progress that we are going to mark over the next few days and then over the next four years. I was with a 14-year-old boy, African-American, lives just south of Baltimore. He says he's never felt the sting of racism, but his parents sit around the table with him and his grandparents sit around the table with him and he told me if I had been there a year and a half ago and I said, Melvin, who's your hero, he would have said without blinking Michael Jordan. Ask him today and he says Barack Obama.

What does that do in inner city Baltimore? As I was saying before the break, when you ride through on that train, it's embarrassing frankly. You look out the window, you see the boarded up row housing, the dilapidated housing where some people are forced to live and you say, this is the United States of America in 2008, 2009? It's frankly embarrassing.

What is Barack Obama's role in that? I asked him about that yesterday and he said, some of it is the government but a lot of it is parents and if he can be a leader of government who also happens to be an African-American parent of young children and that sends a message, he thinks that's a powerful thing.

COOPER: In the years ahead, in the months ahead, the expectations on this man are so great. There have been so many not only campaign promises and campaign rhetoric made by so many, but just everybody has their own expectations of what he's going to be able to achieve. And, yet, now with this huge economic burden that we are all bearing, it's a real question how much of the other stuff can get achieved.

O'BRIEN: Some of the other stuff I think is also just being there. As you point out, to be someone's hero is just existing in the White House. Now does that really onboard the homes that we have all seen any time we've taken Amtrak to D.C.? No, it doesn't do anything tangible that way. But it's a great first step.

One of my daughters who's 6-years-old said to me, so he's the first black person who is president? I said yes. She said, there's never been another black person? Just the idea, she couldn't fathom. She's six, she's only been around with one president. It's an amazing mindset change that I think you'll see. But the tangible differences, we need some big ones.

BLITZER: Is it your thought, David Gergen, as we watch this history unfold, that his power in changing America, improving America, will be more as a result of the executive orders, the legislation? Or will it be the bully pulpit, the communication skills, the setting the tone for the country that could have an even greater impact on the future of where we're -- the future of this country?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: That's a very, very good question. If you look back to the last time we had a very, very bad economic time, the Great Depression and Franklin Roosevelt came here to this city to give his inaugural address and with very high expectations, the truth was that Roosevelt started a whole lot of initiatives right away, the 100 days, a magical time.

But we didn't get out of the valley for a long time. It took years and years to get out of the valley. But what Roosevelt did was he gave people a sense of hope. He built a bridge across the valley for people psychologically so that they thought life was going to get better and they believed in him as a result.

And that power of oratory, the capacity to give those fireside chats, to bring people into his confidence, which is what Obama does, to give a powerful inaugural address as Roosevelt did, his first inaugural, it does seem to me that's an extremely important part of Obama's presidency, that he can't transform the job situation in 12 months or 24 months.

What he can do is give people a sense of hope that we're moving in the right direction, things will get better, you can have more confidence in the future. I think -- because what's happening right now is his election is not only important because of the racial aspect.

But we've been going through a number of years now where people were starting to lose faith in the country. They were starting to lose faith in the future. They thought our best days were behind us. That's very, very -- that's a big break from our tradition. We've always been optimistic people. Well people are starting to lose confidence. And he has come along and rekindled that confidence.

I think that airplane that went down, the US Air flight and the pilot -- and Soledad and I were talking about this earlier and she was saying metaphorically in some ways, the pilot of that airplane is very much like Barack Obama -- that he got the plane down safely, but everybody else had to join together to get out of the plane and pull together to get through that adversity. I thought that was an interesting metaphor.

O'BRIEN: And it's a metaphor that Barack Obama keeps emphasizing, which is it is not about me. And there's a host of reasons to do that. Number one, you can't turn the economy around by yourself. That's not going to happen. So push that back on people.

KING: And if he can rebuild trust in this town and in government, he has another opportunity, and that is to change the future -- the recent history of his party.

For 20 of the last 28 years, Republicans have lived in the White House. For 28 of the last 40 years, Republicans have lived in the White House. And the Democrats have an enormous opportunity right now, because of his victory and the way he won. If you look at the demographics of how he won, the growing Latino population, the increased participation of African-Americans, the affinity of younger voters he has like Ronald Reagan has when he helped the Republican Party change back in 1980.

If Barack Obama can keep the coalition that he had in this election together and if he can build it, then it's a huge opportunity for the Democratic Party and a lot of peril for the Republican Party.

BLITZER: Which raises a fascinating, I thought fascinating development this week, Anderson, for all of us who are journalists especially fascinating. He went to George Will's home, a conservative columnist, well known, highly respected. But among the guests were a bunch of other conservative columnists and writers and neocons and this was a pretty extraordinary gesture on his part to reach out to some of those who have been quite critical of him and have a meal with them.

COOPER: I will also say that a number of the conservatives who were there had not been so critical of him. Many of them had been very critical of George Bush because he frankly was not all that conservative certainly in terms of economics. I think Andrew Sullivan, the blogger was there. I think the writer for "The Times" was there as well.

KING: And David knows this from his time in Washington and from his service in several administrations of different parties that I've been here 20 years. And it's become a more venomous town and a more nasty partisan town. I love a good partisan fight. Let's have one, over any issue in town, I love to watch them. We get paid to watch them and chronicle them and it's great. But it's become more personal, it's become more petty.

And what Barack Obama is trying to do at those meetings is to defang it. That if George Will or David Brooks or anyone else is going to take issue with him, take spirited issue with me, with my policies, with the substance of what I'm trying to do, not with who I am and not with me and not because I'm a D, a Democrat. Let's fight over the substance, let's have a good spirited fight. Let's not be so personal.

O'BRIEN: But that's what the guy was in law school. That was his reputation at Harvard Law School. He was the guy who could be the consensus builder. So even the people --

COOPER: He's also saying the same thing to liberals, to Paul Krugman, saying look, if you have good ideas, the Nobel Prize winning economist, if you have a good idea, bring it on. It's not just about throwing arrows. It's about actually trying to solve problems.

GERGEN: And it will make a difference in governing. It will help him to govern. If you can make this a more civil discourse here in Washington, it will change things. The last president who did this, as Wolf will remember so well, was Ronald Reagan, when he came to town in 1981 as this conservative.

His first big event here was a dinner at Katharine Graham's house. And a lot of the left came to that dinner. A lot of the establishment, which was Democratic, came to the dinner. And Reagan went and said, Nancy and I have come here. We want to be neighbors. We're not here just as Californians. We want to live here and be your neighbor. And it took a lot of the venom out of the system. And I think Barack Obama was very smart to sit down with them.

COOPER: And how much of that depends on the personality of the president and the ability of the president to -- I mean, Ronald Reagan had this remarkable ability to make people like him even if they didn't like him politically.

GERGEN: That's right. And I think -- I don't see the sense of love for Obama yet, but I think he could generate a sense of, I really like the guy, I like his values, I like what he stands for, I like the way he does that.

It makes a big difference. I think a lot of the tone of the town can be set by the president. And with Obama going to George Will's house in the way he did and then sitting down with the liberal pundits the next day, I thought that was a very gracious and good thing to do, that some people wouldn't have thought to do. But it really reflects, I think, how comfortable he is himself.

BLITZER: And he's going to have dinner with John McCain in advance of the swearing in, as well. We're going to talk about that. I want to go back to the train, though, right now. That train is getting ready to do what they're calling a slow roll. That's a -- not a dance move.

It's a slow roll on the part of the train in a place called Edgewood, Maryland. The train will slow down. Barack Obama will be in the last car on the train. He'll be able to wave together with Joe Biden to some of the folks who have gathered there. Our own Joe Johns is there as well. Joe, you're in Edgewood, Maryland. What's it like?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a bit of Americana, Wolf. If you take a look and we'll just pan over and give you some idea. Rockwell, if you will, people coming out in their parkas and their toboggans, their ski boots and so on, just waiting to see the man who will be the next president quite soon, in fact. When we got here at this little train stop in Edgewood, Maryland, I can tell you it seemed like Obama mania had simply not arrived.

But we could only see a line of about 60 or so people that once the Secret Service started letting people through -- and, yes, they did go through magnetometers -- it was a steady stream ever since.

We're talking now several hundred people all waiting here together just to get a glimpse. A lot of the people I talked to said this would be the singular inaugural event they would attend, even though Edgewood is really only about 60 or so miles outside of Washington, D.C. But there are people, of course, who are making this the first part of their inaugural activities, including three women I met just a few minutes ago from Toronto, Canada.

They've now driven down here, come to see the train, moving on tomorrow to Washington, D.C., and will be out on the Mall on Tuesday. So in that way you can call it an international event, the world watching, Wolf. Quite a scene here in Edgewood, Maryland, right now.

BLITZER: Do you have any idea, can you get a sense, Joe, how many people have actually shown up? They're not going to be able to hear the president-elect, but they'll be able to see him as that train slows down.

JOHNS: Absolutely. And I've got to tell you, I'm thinking we're probably up to 500 or so, perhaps. I asked my producer, maybe 500. There are a lot of people, actually, waiting outside. And there's a bus bringing people from lots and so on. They get into a line in a sort of very orderly procession, make their way in here. And still, there's a little while before this train comes down through Edgewood.

You know, there are some people who are actually very hopeful that somehow this train will stop here and perhaps Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden will get out and shake some hands and some anticipation of that. Not clear at all that that is going to happen. We're hearing helicopters overhead. I would assume that's a security helicopter because as you know, this corridor has pretty much been blocked from any helicopter traffic other than security helicopters.

BLITZER: Security intense. And what a lot of folks don't realize as Joe pointed out, anyone who gets anywhere close to that train has to first go through security to make sure that everything is just fine.

JOHNS: Wolf, if you're talking to me, I'm not hearing you.

BLITZER: I think we're about 20 or 30 minutes still away interest that train slowing down in Edgewood, Maryland. We'll continue our coverage, though, right after this.


BLITZER: All right. These are live pictures you're seeing from inside the train as it zips along, going from Wilmington, Delaware, to Baltimore. It's about to slow down, 15, 20 or minutes we're told Anderson in a place called Edgewood, Maryland. We saw Joe Johns there with a few hundred folks who have gathered. They're not going to have a chance to hear from the president-elect, but they'll be able to wave and he'll wave right back.

COOPER: And that will probably be enough and they will be able to say they saw the president-elect on this historic day. And then of course it goes to Baltimore and then from there, it goes on to Union Station. And we're going to cover it all.

I want to check in with John King though because you interviewed Barack Obama yesterday. One of the things he talked about was his daughters and protecting his daughters. There has always been this tension between the public's desire to know everything about the first family and the first family's desire to very understandably be a family.

KING: Absolutely. We saw that when Chelsea Clinton was at the White House. We saw that when the Bush twins came to the White House. We're about to see it with two very young girls, Sasha and Malia. And Obama, you have a transition of power, it is also a very personal transition for this family. They have picked up and moved from Chicago. The daughters, the girls are now in a new school here. They have moved to a hotel, then to Blair House, now they're about to move on Tuesday into the White House.

In the conversation, I asked the president-elect how sensitive he was to that. The kids are fascinated with it. My 12-year-old daughter reads these magazines and you see pictures of Sasha and Malia all the time. The photographers have tried to track them going to and from their new school here in Washington. So I asked the president- elect, where do you draw the line when it comes to our business, the news media, and your two young daughters?


KING: Where do you draw the line when it comes to my business and your daughters and your family?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT-ELECT: Well, my hope is that the press is going to be respectful of the fact that growing up is hard enough without doing it in a fish bowl. It would be naive of me or Michelle to expect that people take no interest in the girls. But I think the press has a lot of control over this.

We've asked them not to follow them around, not to take pictures of them when they're not with their parents doing something that is a public event. And I hope that folks are respectful of that precisely because folks in the press are parents as well and they know the struggles. And even if you're not a parent, you remember what it was like being a teenager and that can be a painful process as well.


KING: It was interesting during the conversation, then after the interview we talked a bit more. And he said his staff has been reaching out to news organizations saying this is where we see the line. If you're at a public event, of course you're going to show them. If you're going to and from school or by chance they're playing with friends on the background of the White House lawn, leave that alone. That's a private moment.

He was pretty confident that with a few hiccups here and there, the relationship will be fine with the traditional news media. What he was talking about afterwards was in this new world that we live in. It is different from when Amy Carter or even Chelsea Clinton were in the White House, in the age of the blogs, in live Internet postings and streaming video and everything else.

What he was most worried about is what he called paparazzi, photographers just showing up when they go shopping, when they go out to the mall or around their school and things like that.

COOPER: It's interesting because on the one hand -- the same things we've seen with others, Princess Diana, for instance. On the one hand people say well they resent photographers taking pictures of Sasha and Malia Obama, yet they want to read everything there is to know about them and they want to look at those pictures in those magazines and they buy the magazines that have the pictures.

KING: And a number of people -- look, people are in the publishing business across the board are making money off of this. Barack Obama sells magazines. His family sells magazine. He's not on the cover and the family is not on the cover of so many magazines by accident. Those are for profit businesses.

But they're also like "Scholastic," magazines and publications aimed at younger people have put out little biographies of Sasha and Malia. The Obamas have no problem with that per se. They think that's all part of the -- people are fascinated and people deserve to know who their first family is. But he's a little worried about this going forward. You can sense it from him.

BLITZER: David, you were in the Clinton White House when Chelsea Clinton was still a little girl. And I think -- because I covered almost all of those years of the Clintons in the White House. We were all very respectful of her privacy.

GERGEN: Extremely respectful. And I think the press has moved into a good position with Sasha and Malia -- I see a -- yes, there was a fascination in the beginning. And to go to this -- look, the public said, we don't want to have so much O.J. on television, but then they watched it in droves.

And they just -- every time -- and there is -- these girls are so fetching and so interesting. And we're all going to be wondering if one is going to cut up during the inaugural speech or say something. That will be fun to do.

But John King is right. There have been some very constructive conversations between the transition team and the White House press association, the people who represent the White House press corps. And I think they've gone well toward the idea, look, just what he said, if we have them out in public places, that's fair game.

But if they're conducting the rest of their lives, leave them alone. And I bet that that holds.

O'BRIEN: But I think for -- it will for people who are of that group and who are agreeing to those things. But I think you're right, you're going to have the one blogger with the camera hanging from the tree --

KING: I can remember Chelsea Clinton, for example, I remember sitting at a Washington restaurant one night, and literally halfway through the meal, I saw this group across the table -- I didn't even notice about halfway through, that girl under the baseball cap was Chelsea Clinton. And I noticed it because all of the sudden, I realized those were Secret Service agents sort of mumbling into their wrists over there. And that was fine. You waved hi as you walked away. But today, there are photographers everywhere and these blog sites that put up photos like that.

GERGEN: True, but I also think, Wolf, that Chelsea Clinton has grown up to be the fine young woman she is in part because she had a more -- they were able to get a more normal childhood than one would have expected in that fish bowl. I think that did contribute something. I think respecting her privacy, giving her her own privacy was a really important part of allowing her to grow up.

BLITZER: Did we mention whose birthday it is? It's Michelle Obama's birthday and we mentioned Anderson, I think she's 45-years- old.

COOPER: And you said Muhammad Ali's birthday.

O'BRIEN: Muhammad Ali's birthday today, he's 67.

BLITZER: Happy birthday to Muhammad Ali. Happy birthday to Michelle Obama.

O'BRIEN: Another person people will be watching. We've talked about it. Another person people are going to be watching so closely, the working mother juggling it all in the White House.

COOPER: And her mom as well will be living in the White House as well. A lot to talk about ahead. Our coverage continues all the way through to Barack Obama's arrival here in Washington at Union Station. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: This is Baltimore, Maryland. These are live pictures. You see a huge crowd has already gathered at City Hall there. That's where Barack Obama and Joe Biden will be speaking after they get off the train. It's continuing -- about to make a slowdown in a place called Edgewood, Maryland, before it reaches Baltimore. It won't be stopping at Edgewood. It will stop in Baltimore and we will be hearing speeches, Anderson, from both of these men.

COOPER: You see a number of people in that crowd trying to stay warm, kind of dancing up and down.

BLITZER: Is that what we're doing?

COOPER: During commercial breaks.

O'BRIEN: That's what you've been doing.

COOPER: That is what I've been doing. That is a cold crowd right there.

BLITZER: It's a technical term. They call it the slow roll. People slowly beginning --

O'BRIEN: As the train rolls.

COOPER: We saw you do that on "Ellen."

BLITZER: She gave me some special gear to protect us from the cold weather. I'm going to bring it on Tuesday for all of us to share.

GERGEN: Did you get a lot of grief for this?

BLITZER: No. I got a lot of praise from Anderson Cooper especially from Anderson. He was full of praise.

COOPER: Yes. I was amazed, really, what it was, speechless.

BLITZER: Is that what they call the shot of the day?

COOPER: Yes, it was our shot of the day.

BLITZER: OK, good.

COOPER: Could it have been our shot, though, for like a month because it was quite something to see. I could watch it over and over again.

BLITZER: You can. I'm sure it's available. All right. She did say when you come back on her show, "Ellen," she wants to you do a little dance.

COOPER: Yes, that's not going to happen.

BLITZER: No? I'm going to dance again on her show. You invite me on your show, maybe I'll dance on your show.

COOPER: You will dance on any show that will have you, quite frankly, at this point.

BLITZER: Soledad, you're a good dancer.

O'BRIEN: Not dancing on anybody's show. I'll fill in whenever you need me because I know you're traveling. What a remarkable moment. The thing that I think is really interesting -- again, my kid like your daughter absolutely fascinated with Malia and Sasha, the same age.

My daughters are six and eight. My boys are a little younger so they're not as interested. But the women are absolutely fascinated with Michelle Obama as a woman with a high-powered job, a mom trying to juggle it, keeping her girls -- have to be in the spotlight as they campaign but really raising two clearly lovely girls, well behaved.

Just amazing to watch as a mom, not as a journalist mom but just as a mom, it's been a really fascinating thing to watch.

COOPER: Also, now, you have her mom moving into the White House with them. I'm not sure the last time a mother-in-law to a president lived in the White House. But that adds to a whole other layer of interest to this family. There's no doubt that throughout this country, this first family, there's probably a higher level of interest in this first family than any we have seen in recent times.

O'BRIEN: Michelle Obama used to say in interviews that I did with her, she said you know, it was such a wonderful thing to have her mom there, because she was able to leave her daughters with somebody who they loved and they trusted and who she felt safe with, so she could do what she did, which was to run off and support her husband and give speeches on her own and just how grateful she was.

But also at the same time, really fully understanding what it's like for a lot of working mothers who don't have the mother-in-law or the mother to trust and who are dealing with bills that can't quite get paid and juggling three jobs and all those sort of issues that regardless of how much money you make as a mom it's still a challenge. I think she's going to have a very interesting voice when she officially decides what her platform is going to be.

GERGEN: I tell you, there's a couple of things she's already doing, I think, in these inaugural festivities that are important.

One is, there's going to be one of these balls that's going to be for military families. This is very much something she has taken on. And she's going to be intimately involved with that. I think that her reaching out like that to the military families has been really important.

Also, we talked earlier about Monday not only being Martin Luther King Day but Barack Obama has declared that service day. And she's extremely interested in this service initiative and has said she wants to take a personal responsibility there. And a lot of people in the social community are looking to her for leadership now on that.

BLITZER: Brianna Keilar, by the way, is in Edgewood, Maryland -- excuse me, Baltimore. Joe Johns is in Edgewood. Brianna, set the scene for us at City Hall in Baltimore. I assume a huge crowd has already gathered.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. It is a very large crowd. We're expecting up to 100,000 people here. I just want to show you some of the faces here in the crowd so you can get a sense of who has come out here. If you talk with people in the crowd, there's a lot of people in their 40s and 50s. And they say they're out here with their kids, teenagers, and they're also out here because of their parents, who may not be with them anymore but just because it's something their parents never would have expected to happen, having a black president.

A lot of people we spoke with said that the kids in this city, even though they couldn't vote, were -- even if they weren't kids who necessarily loved follow current events, there was just something about this election that they followed and it really inspired them of reading and just keeping up on what was going on.

But, also, this is a significant stop here in Baltimore that Barack Obama is going to be making, because for all of the comparisons between Abraham Lincoln's whistle-stop trip tour and Barack Obama's whistle-stop tour, Barack Obama is going to be doing something here that Lincoln never did and that very simply is just to stop because in 1861 when Abraham Lincoln went through Baltimore, this was a slave state. He was persona non grata here and he did not stop.

Fast forward all of this time. This is a city now that is 64 percent African-American and this is a state that Barack Obama at least for the general election really didn't have to campaign in a whole lot because it was solidly in his column. That's the other thing when you're talking with people here in this crowd. This is a rare treat for them to see him, because they haven't had many opportunities to do it, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, 100,000 people gathering on a mid Saturday afternoon in Baltimore, Maryland, on a very, very chilly day. That's quite a statement in and of itself. We'll take another quick break. Our coverage of the inauguration of the president continues after this.


BLITZER: All right. There it is, the National Mall here in Washington, D.C. On Tuesday, that will be -- this place will be full of people, there's no doubt about that as Barack Obama gets ready to be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States.

They're getting ready for that slow roll, the slowdown in Edgewood, Maryland, where the train will slow down a little bit. He'll be able to wave from that last car on the train, wave to those people who have gathered there, Anderson. And then they'll continue on to Baltimore where we just saw an amazing crowd gathering, 100,000 people on a chilly day in Baltimore will gather to hear what Barack Obama has to say. Joe Biden, no doubt, will be speaking as well.

COOPER: We expect about five minutes from now in Edgewood to see the train. We heard helicopters in the air a short time ago, a sign that that security cordon, that moving bubble is slowly making its way to Edgewood. And again, this is an event.

O'BRIEN: Look at all those kids in the audience. This is one of those moments that as cold as it is, you bundle up your kids and you bring them along. It's been such is a remarkable thing. A number of the people I know who have said they're going to come to D.C.

GERGEN: This is the only occasion when you can bring your child, because you're not supposed to bring your child to the Mall like this.

O'BRIEN: Well, I know a lot of people are bringing their kids to the Mall.

GERGEN: Under the age of two.

O'BRIEN: It's going to be hard with the strollers.

BLITZER: If they bring them, make sure those little kids are dressed really, really warm because it's very chilly.

O'BRIEN: I think there's a sense of the moment that you want your children to experience even if they're too young to really fully understand what's going on at the time. It really makes you think back to -- as you pointed out earlier, Roland, the young people involved in the movement with Martin Luther King, the young people who were really the ones who were pushing for change with little rock nine, the young people who went to jail.

COOPER: In Barack Obama's campaign, the role of young people -- it was really unprecedented. Politicians often talk about reaching out to young people. But there was always that question of would young people actually come out to vote and can they actually be depended on. And certainly even in the early caucuses, young people played a crucial role for Barack Obama.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You talk to people part of the greatest generation, who went through the Korean War and went through the '60s. There are all these different moments they talk about they were part of, where they actually had something they were involved in. I turned 40 in November.

This for many people is the first event in this generation where people said, I identify with. If you really think about it, there have been no real movements. There have been no national sort of efforts where folks of this generation say I can latch on to.

I think one of the reasons why you're seeing those kids there, because for this generation and for the parents, this is their first moment to identify with something so historical. So when you hear the stories, talking about what happened 50 and 60 or 30 and 40 years ago, nobody really since --

BLITZER: There was a moment right after 9/11 where the whole country, Roland, got together. We had been attacked, 3,000 people were dead within a matter of only a few moments. And there was a moment that all of us could have rallies, could have been challenged --

MARTIN: It was a tragic moment. It was a moment indeed but it was a tragic moment. Most of our national moments have been tragic. But this is the -- I guess the significant non-tragic moment that folks can identify with and say, I was a part of and I was there when it happened.

GERGEN: Yeah. I think, Wolf, in many ways what you and I think of that as is that 9/11 became a missed moment. There was a time when young people would have rallied to the country in all sorts of ways. Everybody wanted to do. What is it we can do to help the country?

And instead of asking for common sacrifice and rallying together, we were told to go shopping. That was the mantra. Now Barack Obama has given us a new moment. And the question is going to be, he's got all these people gathered, they voted for him. What comes next? What comes after the inauguration to keep them engaged and to help them -- make them part of something bigger.

COOPER: Clearly the inauguration in this is the first step in that. They've wanted to make this the most inclusive inauguration. They've said repeatedly that's part of the reason behind the train journey, allowing more people to play a role in this. And this day of service which we talked about on Monday, the day before the inauguration.

O'BRIEN: They have to give them a real role. When you look back to Martin Luther King Days, a lot of these young people, you saw the pictures of the children in busses hauled off to jail. Their parents had jobs and their parents could not lose those jobs.

So who was volunteering to be part of that? The kids were. The 16-year-olds were. So you have to give them a real opportunity, not a, go shop or go do something that doesn't matter. Be part of a movement, of a campaign.

I agree, in New York, after 9/11, people were so touched. You'd get on the subway and people wouldn't speak. It was jam-packed and just so quiet, but no one knew what to do.

COOPER: For me -- and I think you spent a lot of time there as well. The great lesson is New Orleans. New Orleans has in the last three years, to the extent that it has been rebuilt, it has been rebuilt through, in many cases, young people.

Tens of thousands of young people have given up spring breaks, given up their summer holidays, working with AmeriCorps, working with church groups, working with habitat or all these different volunteer groups, thousands of them --

BLITZER: Volunteers in New Orleans.

COOPER: We see them there. When you go there, Soledad, you see them all the time.

MARTIN: During the campaign, the previous generation kept going back to, well, when we think of service, it's serving the military. Obama was trying to say service is not just serving your country in terms of putting on a uniform. It's serving your country, everything you just described. So this whole notion of where -- talking about what's next, where folks are going next. I spoke in Daytona Beach and I said the same thing, what now? He's trying to get people to understand there is something greater here and take your pick. It could be high school dropouts. It could be an issue of the environment. It could have to do with public transportation. But you have to do something to go beyond just getting paid, having a job, having -- living a wonderful life, getting a big screen.

GERGEN: It's interesting and I hope this will be a parallel. When Franklin Roosevelt came in during the Depression, three weeks after he was inaugurated, he called for a Civilian Conservation Corps, a CCC. And he said, I want to get 250,000 young men working in the forest building the state parks and the like. And most of the experts said, it will never happen, Americans won't rally. By that summer, they had 275,000 young men in the parks. The CCC was enormously popular.

COOPER: We're just moments away from the slow roll in Maryland that we're going to be bringing you.

BLITZER: Yes, he's going to wave to the crowd in Edgewood, Maryland. We'll take a quick break. We'll get ready for that, then the big speech in Baltimore, Maryland -- 100,000 people or so have gathered at City Hall. Our coverage continues right after this.


BLITZER: This is a live picture of the Washington Monument here in the nation's capital. This is part of the National Mall, which will be jam-packed on Tuesday. But the focus of attention right now at this minute is on Edgewood, Maryland. It's on the way to Baltimore from Wilmington, Delaware. These are live pictures you're seeing from the train carrying Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, Jill Biden and the rest of the entourage to the nation's capital with an immediate stop coming up in Baltimore.

But this is Edgewood, Anderson. Joe Johns is there on the scene for us. Joe, we've been told that the game plan -- obviously subject to change -- is the train will slow down and the Obamas will be on the last train and they'll be waving to the people who have gathered there, although you never know what might happen. What are you hearing? What are you seeing?

JOHNS: Exactly right. There's been a lot of hopefulness out here that the Obamas would actually stop the train and get off. A lot of other people saying not possible, not possible. So who knows?

People here -- and it has been reported in the local publication that this area we're standing in over by the train tracks around Edgewood is sort of a pocket of support for Barack Obama in an otherwise pretty Republican area, which is Hartford County, Maryland.

So some people here have suggested, yeah, he might want to just stop and do it on a symbolic basis simply because there's so much support for him. And I can tell you it's pretty remarkable. Since you guys came to us last night, there were -- we thought the estimate was about 500 people. Now it's swollen, I should say, to about 1,400 people or more. Quite happy, in fact, even though it's very cold. A lot of kids, a lot of parkas and people trying to keep warm but very happy faces.

It's a very good feeling, something like Americana, something like Rockwell, you would say, 2009 style here, as people wait for this man who is about to be sworn in as the next president of the United States, to come by and at least give them a wave, if not possibly even get off and shake some hands or say hello. That certainly isn't scheduled, the authorities have told us, but hope springs eternal, Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: For so many of these people not only in Edgewood, Maryland, Joe, but from all over the country, where ever he stopped, they just want to be able to say, you know, I saw him in person.

JOHNS: I was there.

BLITZER: And I was there, that's right. It's an amazing moment for so many millions and millions of Americans who just want to be able to say I had a chance to see Barack Obama. I might not have heard of him, might not have been able to shake his hand, but I saw him.

COOPER: And not only to say that I was there but for children in later years to be able to say, I was there. Even if they may not remember. We just saw in that picture a woman with a very young child. Clearly that child for the rest of his life will be able to say I was there and Barack Obama just went right by us.


MARTIN: A lot of times talking about that photo of him shaking John F. Kennedy's hand. And it's one of those moments.

BLITZER: Boys' nation.

MARTIN: You never know.

BLITZER: All of us, I'm sure, remember -- we can go around. All of us can remember a moment when we were teenagers or something, we saw a major political figure. I remember growing up in Buffalo, Robert F. Kennedy. I saw him when he was running for the U.S. Senate with a good friend of mine, Carl Vizzi (ph). We sort of skipped school and we went to see Bobby Kennedy. It was a pretty amazing moment. I still remember it. Anderson is freaking out.

COOPER: You can admit that you skipped school now. You have to hedge it. The truant officer is no longer --

BLITZER: I was a good student, but once in a while you wanted to see Bobby Kennedy.

MARTIN: I heard John King talk earlier about these young men, young African-American men who are now looking up to Obama. Really expect President-elect Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama when they take office to sort of drive this sort of cultural shift, if you will. Obama's going to be operating that being a geek is cool, because, again, when you have something to look up to, it causes a different sort of feel. I mean, a lot of kids, they talk about Michael Jordan, talk about Allen Iverson, whatever.

The reality is, there's no doubt, in black America, he's going to become and she is going to become the biggest stars, if you will. And so it's going to be real interesting to see how folks say, OK, you like him, you want to be like him, this is what he had to do. He went to school. He studied. This is what they accomplished.

BLITZER: He did his home work.

MARTIN: Did all of that. That's a different image that you drive home than practice hard in basketball to be a Michael Jordan.

COOPER: It's also interesting -- we were going to talk about this a while ago. You go around the world right now and just the level of which people feel connected to Barack Obama. I was in Egypt a short time ago. And people there feel in some way connected to Barack Obama. Even though they may not even know the detail of his policies or what he believes in. But there's a -- whether it's a renewed interest or a renewed belief in America just through his election, but certainly this sense of connection.

GERGEN: Absolutely. I was in France a few weeks after the election and a black man came up to me and said, you know, we've never had a black judge in France. And since your election, we've appointed our first black judge. You've already started to make a difference here in our country.

Rahm Emanuel, the incoming chief of staff of Barack Obama, told me the other day what he had been most knocked over about in planning for the inaugural was not how many were coming to the Mall but how many international news organizations have come to them. They want to broadcast this live. They have at least 80 international news organizations that are going to be broadcasting this live. It will be perhaps one of the biggest events.

BLITZER: Think about this for a moment because it's going to be noon eastern on Tuesday when that moment, when he raises his right hand and becomes president of the United States occurs. It's Noon Eastern. But you know what, all over the world, people are awake. In Europe, it will be late in the afternoon. In London, it will be 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon. In Paris, it will be 6:00 p.m.

In Tel Aviv, it will be 7:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m. or so in Moscow, Russia. Even in China, it will only be midnight. People will be awake in Beijing and obviously in the Western Hemisphere, South America, North America, everyone will be awake. It will be at a time when people will be able to see us live right here on CNN because we'll be showing the whole world what is going on.

GERGEN: And you know what you hear -- and I'm sure you heard this -- in many of these countries people tell you what we've seen out of America in recent years we haven't liked very much. This reminds us of why we always admired America. This renews our sense of what you are, a sense of promise, a sense of openness.

O'BRIEN: This country has looked to America's promise. When you talk to Andrew Young about his time with Martin Luther King, he'll say, letter from Birmingham jail has been translated and people quote it when they're trying to push for democracy in China. They say, read this. This is what we base -- which of course lays out essentially the whole idea of what Martin Luther King was looking for. He lays it out letter from the Birmingham jail.

Is there anybody who doesn't understand the movement he lays it out and to the clergy and points where people are not doing their part. And people in China take that document and say, this describes us, with some tweaks and some word changes.

GERGEN: And why we can't wait.

O'BRIEN: And why -- right. There is no just be patient, time is on your side. Time is not on anybody's side. Time will move along and people have to push.

BLITZER: So is it fair, David, to think within that moment, people all over the world, their image of the United States will dramatically change right away?

GERGEN: It's fair to think that they will believe there is new hope, there is new possibility. I think we should be very careful all the way along in this -- this is a moment for celebration but not a sense of arrival. We are a long, long way from where we need to be. And one of the burdens on Barack Obama is going to be living up to all of these expectations and hopes. You know, much of the world is looking to this one single individual who is 47-years-old to deliver us from all of these things.

COOPER: Barack Obama said in Philadelphia, in fact, this election is not the end of what we do to rebuild this country, but the beginning.


MARTIN: But this is interesting, though. He is of a generation that believes in high expectations. And so -- so although maybe all of these things on him, what he is saying is, OK, it's fine to have the high expectations. Sure, we talk about tamp down, all the stuff like that. But he's saying, OK, fine, if that's the expectation, let's go for it. Let's shoot for it. And if we get close to it, that means we're even higher than where we are right now.

BLITZER: Take a look at this map. We're going to show our viewers the map once again on this historic day, the journey that has taken Barack Obama from Philadelphia to Wilmington and now approaching Edgewood, Maryland, where the train will slow down eventually going to Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

All right. This is a live picture you're seeing from Edgewood, Maryland. This train should be pulling in right now. And these folks, as Joe Johns said, more than 1,000, maybe 1,500 right now, they're going to get very excited as they get a chance to watch the train bringing Barack Obama and his family to the nation's capital.

COOPER: As we saw, the slowdown -- the slow roll in Baltimore, Barack Obama most likely will be at the end of the train, the last car of the train, the private car of the train as they call it. Along with Vice President-elect Biden, perhaps Michelle Obama as well and Jill Biden.

BLITZER: That earlier slowdown in Claymont station, Delaware, it was I think considerably more modest than looks like what is developing right here in Edgewood, Maryland.

COOPER: Joe Johns saying that just in the last 30 or so minutes, there are now about 1,400 people, by his count, who are there. And, clearly, they are all there hoping to get a glimpse. And it seems that they will if the last slow roll is any indication of Barack Obama. And the question is will the train stop. And some of the crowd are certainly hopeful that it will in fact stop.

BLITZER: Looks like it's going really, really slow right now. This is a shot, by the way, you're seeing, Roland, from inside the train. This is what the passengers aboard the Obama Express are seeing as this train pulls in or at least slows down in Edgewood, Maryland.

COOPER: Candy Crowley is on the train. Candy, there has been some anticipation in the crowd that this train might actually stop. Have you heard anything about that?

VOICE OF CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No. This is not on their plan. They're pretty good at keeping their schedule and they're also pretty good at telling us. But it is a definitely slower roll. We would have to stop if we went much slower. So, you know, obviously, you're seeing what we're seeing. I'm about half a foot from the cameraman.

So, basically, this is Barack Obama's view as he comes by. Now, he does have -- has come out in the back, the rear of the train, so he may well do that. This is a pretty nice size crowd to come out.

I tell you what's been really interesting. We go through a lot of impoverished and a lot of rural areas where there's just a lot of land and not very highly populated. And you can be going by those at a huge speed, and you look up and all of a sudden, there will be two people standing in the middle of the woods with their cell phones taking pictures.

I mean, it looks like they came out of nowhere. And single people either standing on a roof or standing on top of a semi-truck that are just watching. It's sort of amazing to me, it's not these large crowds, which are great, but it's the people who came out when no one else was around just to watch this go by.

COOPER: Let's listen to the crowd as Barack Obama rolls by.

BLITZER: There he is. COOPER: I don't know if Joe Johns -- Joe Johns may be able to -- I know at some point Joe Johns may be able to talk to some of the people in the crowd. It would be nice to hear from some people in the crowd why they came out and why they felt it would be important. We also have a shot, our next location will be Baltimore. That's where the train is actually going to stop. And Barack Obama is going to speak. This is the crowd. This is the scene right now in Baltimore. Clearly, they are staying warm.

BLITZER: They're trying to warm up. They're at City Hall in Baltimore, where the president-elect, the vice president-elect will be speaking at the War Memorial Plaza. But it's a chilly day in Baltimore. Probably the same temperature roughly what it is here in Washington, D.C. And so this is a good way for them to be doing their own slow roll, if you see what I mean. They're trying to stay warm in Baltimore, which is not easy.